St. Valentine is for Lovers

By Annemarie Donkin
Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin      February 5, 2021

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St. Valentine is for Lovers
While Feb. 14 is a celebration of love and romance, Feb. 15 is a celebration of love for self, family, and friends. In Ancient Rome, the festival of Lupercalia was observed from Feb.13–15 as a rite of purification and, according to Wikipedia, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. This is widely believed to be the origin of St. Valentine’s Day, yet there is no real evidence. Adding to the confusion there was more than one “St. Valentine” in the ancient world performing secret Christian weddings and miracles, so, depending on which St. Valentine you followed, one can celebrate on Feb. 14 in the Western Church or on July 6 or July 30 in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Pope Gelasius I abolished Lupercalia and later established the Feast of Saint Valentine in AD 496 to be celebrated on Feb. 14 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. Since then, Feb. 14 has become firmly associated with romance dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished. Thus, romantic verses from Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590), for example, spoke of love and beauty: “She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew / And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.” More recently, in 18th-century England, Valentine’s Day grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Do not despair if you don’t have a romantic partner this year; February 15 is Singles Awareness Day (or Singles Appreciation Day). Unofficially, it is also a holiday for people who are single or not in a romantic relationship as a celebration of love for oneself, one’s family and friends. So, whether you are celebrating romance or celebrating being single, all hail St. Valentine for the miracle of love for all!
Annemarie Donkin
      February 5, 2021

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